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What evidence does the text provide that Montresor is an unreliable narrator?

by | Jan 5, 2022 | Uncategorized

 

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Reading Assignment
Read Edgar Allan Poe’s short fiction story, “The Cask of Amontillado”
Read “Narration and Point of View” (pp. 110-115 in the Norton Intro to Literature, 12th Edition) and/or read my PowerPoint summary Download PowerPoint summary of the textbook’s discussion of narration.
A few key points to always have in my mind when you’re reading literature:
Fiction = an invented, imagined, made-up story
Nonfiction = a true account of real events
The narrator in a work of fiction is NOT the author. The voice telling the story (narrating) comes from a character who was made-up (invented) by the author. It is not the real voice of the author. Therefore, the personality and opinions of the narrator are not necessarily related to the personality/opinions of the author. Although sometimes authors do create fictional characters that are similar to who they really are, or somehow reflect their real personality, this is not always the case.

Discussion Prompt
Select one of the following questions to respond to:
Option # 1) What evidence does the text provide that Montresor is an unreliable narrator? Quote and analyze a passage that you believe indicates Montresor’s unreliability. Specifically, which aspects of Montresor’s narrative seem doubtful or suspect? Please note: To say that Montresor’s narrative is “unreliable” is not to say that we shouldn’t believe anything that happens in it, but rather, that the author, Poe, does not want his readers to align their perspective entirely with Montresor’s perspective. In other words, “unreliability” indicates that there is something problematic about Montresor’s understanding of (or attitude toward) the very events he his narrating. How would you characterize the “problematic” aspect(s) of his perspective?
Option # 2) Does the story ever reveal Montresor’s motivation for murder? Does the story in any way hint at the nature of the “insult” that Montresor feels compelled to revenge? If yes, try to characterize the type of “insult” that Montresor has experienced by using textual evidence (quotes from the story). If not, what do you think Poe’s point was in leaving the murder motive vague?

 

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